MUSCATINE, Iowa–Early on July 8, Senator Mark Lofgren, Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen, and Iowa State University Relations Officer Carolann Jensen held a conversation with community leaders about successes Iowa State University has seen recently and ways it can support Muscatine County students interested in pursuing a degree from them. HNI Corporation Senior Vice President Steven Bradford, Muscatine Community School District Superintendent Clint Christopher, Muscatine Community College President Naomi DeWinter, ISU Extension and Outreach Director Heidi Hoffman, Bayer Plant Manager Silvia Malaman, Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine Executive Director Charla Schafer, Louisa-Muscatine Community School District Superintendent Mike Van Sickle, and Aligned Impact Muscatine Director Kim Warren all joined Lofgren and Wintersteen at the Merrill Hotel.
In response to a question from Van Sickle about how Iowa State can help recruit more students into education programs to help reduce teacher shortages across the state, Wintersteen shared how the university works to get prospective teachers into the classroom early to help them see if the career suits them and how they encourage students interested in a variety of fields to consider a career in teaching. DeWinter and Christopher also shared how the new pre-education program at Muscatine Community College will build on these efforts, helping community college students get first-hand classroom experiences in Muscatine schools even before they transfer to a four-year school to finish their degree.
As a plant manager looking to recruit and retain a young and diverse group of engineers, Malaman inquired about how Iowa State promotes diversity in their programs. Wintersteen overviewed their Science Bound program, which provides a place at Iowa State for good students from ethnically diverse backgrounds who enter the program in eighth grade and continue with it through high school as well as their Women in Engineering program. Christopher hoped that his district’s expanded science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM programing would also help more students from all backgrounds take an interest in science related careers. Bradford hoped the HNI Women in Engineering group could cooperate with its sister organization at Iowa State as well.